In the beginning, you set up a blog. Then, you write a blog post.
After that, often, nothing happens. No comments. No readers. No subscribers.
It’s because many new bloggers don’t understand what it is they’ve created when they write a blog post.
Writing a blog post is like crafting a hammer. You’ve created a marketing tool that can be used to raise awareness about your writing or other products or services you (or your freelance clients) might sell.
You wouldn’t expect that hammer to jump up and start hammering nails by itself, would you? Someone must pick up the hammer and start using it for the house to get built. And you’ll also need some nails, right?
Yet, many bloggers are baffled when they do nothing to promote their blog posts, and get no result.
The art of socializing
Recently, in a training, I was describing how I like to tack a monthly, $100 consulting hour onto my regular business blogging contracts.
I don’t enjoy writing 12-word Facebook posts. Instead of getting involved in the front lines of social-media marketing, I would offer to train someone on my client’s team — their teen, their secretary, a junior marketing staffer — on how to promote the posts I was writing in social media. That’s a process known as “socializing” a post.
This writer asked me:
“So, what did you teach them? How DO you socialize a blog post, anyway?”
Good question! Here’s what I taught those clients to do to grab attention for their blog posts — I’ll use one particular small-business client as an example, who has a business-loan blog.
Don’t worry if your topic is different from that — all the same stuff will work for promoting your personal blog, too.
1) Build relationships
As my guest poster Daryl Rothman noted last week, you really get traction in blogging when you build personal relationships. Start by reaching out to other bloggers in your niche.
Comment on their posts. Share their posts in social media. Try to have a Skype chat. Offer to guest post for them.
In sum, be a known name to some thought leaders in your corner of the blogosphere, so that when you have a post you want to promote, there are people who might help you. These other bloggers are going to be the nails you need to hammer home your idea by spreading it around to more readers.
In the case of one of my small-business blogging clients, he’d been doing a great job of this, sharing and commenting on other entrepreneurship blogs. So he was perfectly primed to succeed in promoting his own blog.
2) Get active in social media
Yes, you really need to. No, it’s not too late to start.
If you want to build a blog, the reality is that Twitter is one of the most important platforms for sharing, probably followed by Google+, at this point. If you’re in a home/food/how-to niche, Pinterest may be important to you as well. If Facebook seems like a place people talk about your topic a lot, it might be useful, too.
You may hear stuff about how to get more shares from bookmarking sites and retweet farms and lots of other things, but you don’t really need to get into using them.
You do need to build a presence, though, so that there are people who see and share your post when you retweet or otherwise share it around. Otherwise, you are tweeting to no one.
My client was good on this, too — he’d been building his Twitter following and chatting with people on there about small-business topics.
3) Have a social-sharing tool
I continue to be amazed at how many blogs I find that have no set of social sharing buttons. At this point, only your most rabid fans are going to take the trouble to mosey over to Twitter, hand-write a tweet with the post headline in it, and hand-paste your link into it.
There are plenty of tools out there — among the most popular are AddtoAny, ShareThis, and Sharebar (which is what I’m currently using). Pick one and get it installed. It will immediately signal to readers that you’d like them to share your posts.
4) Design your post for shareability
Instead of writing whatever you feel like and then desperately trying to get people to share it, take the opposite approach: Reverse-engineer your social-media success by noticing what sorts of posts get shared a lot in your niche, and writing something along those lines.
What are the hot topics? The buzzwords? The personalities whose mention inspires conversation? Riff on one of these in your post.
Begin with the key ingredient: Write a strong headline with key words that will help readers interested in your topic to find you.
From there, flesh out a whole post that thought leaders with huge social-media followings might take an interest in.
One no-fail approach I used repeatedly with my clients was to ask them to name their personal top gurus for information in their sector. Doing a post like this gives you a great opportunity to share that post with all the gurus mentioned.
Which brings us to…
5) Target your tweets and shares
The day your post goes up, you need to take action. Don’t just sit and wait for people to come and retweet your post. Be proactive in bringing your post to the attention of big names who might give your post wider exposure.
How do you do this? For starters, don’t beg. And don’t email people to ask them to retweet something. That’s just silly. Target them on that platform, for instance on Twitter with:
“@guru : Your readers might enjoy this post: [HEADLINE/LINK]”
“@guru : You’re mentioned in: [HEADLINE/LINK]”
No, not every busy blogger will take the bait, but some will. Remember, if you’ve done a list of 10-12 top gurus you admire, that’s a lot of different big bloggers you can try.
In the case of one top 20 gurus post I ghostwrote for my client, one of the gurus he dinged about it liked it so much, she ended up asking him to write a regular column for her much-larger blog! It was a huge win that brought him a ton more exposure.
Mentioning a blogger on your post can be a way to connect and lead to more opportunities for you to guest post and grow your blog.
6) Use hashtags
One of the things to do while you’re getting acquainted with Twitter is to learn about hashtags that relate to your niche. For instance, #WW or writer Wednesday, is a popular one for writers. When I have posts come out on Wednesdays, I always make a point to use it when I share my post. Small businesses might be checking out #startup, #smb, or #smallbizchat, to name a few.
Hashtags are great because people who aren’t following you can then discover your posts as well, because they’re scanning Twitter for that hashtag topic.
7) Use a scheduler
I’ll be honest and say I could get better at this, but it’s something you especially want to be using if you’re doing social-media marketing for clients. Because you’re going to want to keep sharing about that post for days or even weeks to come — and the easy way to do that is to write and schedule those all to drip out later, rather than having to sit on Twitter at all hours.
Most of us tend to share our post the day it comes out, and then move on. But marketing pros keep recycling that post.
If you use a scheduler such as HootSuite, it makes it easy. You can keep replicating your link, rewriting your tweets or Facebook shares, and assigning them new dates and times to be posted.
Big tip: Don’t just keep retweeting your headline and link. Instead, vary what you say. Mention that there’s a hot conversation going on in the comments. Ask a question that invites readers to come back and comment. Quote a snappy line from the post. Rewrite the headline. Post it on Facebook with a different graphic on the next day, so it looks fresh.
Other big tip: Be sure you share other things inbetween the repetitions of your new post. Do some scanning, find some interesting stuff, and lace it into your schedule as well, so you don’t start looking like an obnoxious salesman and continue to appear to be putting out useful, varied info.
Of course, there are many other ways to promote blog posts. Give talks and mention your blog, for instance.
But for those who need to do it quick and without leaving home, this gives you a simple, proven approach that puts the hammer and nails together with actions that should help you build your blog audience.
How do you promote your blog posts? Leave a comment and let me know.